Side Quest: A Family Visit, A Family Feast

During the winter break, Madelynn’s family came to visit and spend time with us wandering around Kyoto and Tokyo. We had a great time, and can’t wait for the next visit from friends and family.

Over the next several weeks I will be posting photos from our trip in the Picture For A Day section, so please check them out. In the mean time, below is a selection of the food we ate during our travels.



We kick off the trip with a meal at Okutonojinya, located in Okazaki. Easily the most authentic Japanese meal we will have all trip, and one of everyone’s favorites. The menu is seasonal, so set meals like this wonderful duck nabe (Japanese hot pot) will be gone at the start of spring.


This trip marks our first visit to Coco Ichibanya, a no-nonsense curry chain. Okay, so maybe some of the menu items are a little weird, like cheese-infused curry. The best thing about Coco Ichibanya is the ability to choose the spice/hotness level on a scale from zero to ten. The menu has a warning that you should not order a five or above without eating a four first. After ordering an eight, it’s safe to say that is a fair warning. Good curry though, we will definitely eat at the chain again.


In Kyoto we stop at Gogyo to try out some of their “burnt” ramen. Ranked as one of the top Trip Advisor restaurants in Kyoto, this place did not disappoint. They serve some of the best ramen I have ever eaten, with a unique smoky flavor.


On Christmas Eve, everyone eats fried chicken, or so I am told. So here we are, about to feast on a special Christmas edition bucket of KFC chicken. Not quite the same holiday meal as back home, but on the other hand, it is fried chicken.


The menu available at the 100% Chocolate Café is pretty obvious, but what’s this? Orange slices on my plate? Unbelievable. All I want to do is drink my hot chocolate and eat my chocolate cake, but these fruit hooligans sneak in and crash the chocolate party.


Sweet potato ice cream and pink lemonade on the Sumida river cruise at 10AM.  Whose idea was this?


We hit up Gonpachi in Odaiba to try out yakitori in a more restaurant-like atmosphere. A good view of the rainbow bridge complements the well-made dishes.


We make a visit to the Candy Show Time store in Harajuku to get our sweet tooth on. Staff hand roll candy with tiny drawings crafted into them. The free samples seal the deal with customers.


Time for a little taste of dolsot bibimbap at a random Korean restaurant. Dolsot bibimba is a delicious rice medley mixed just before you eat it in a hot stone bowl. Madelynn and I have been eating this dish since we discovered it the first time we came to Japan.



Be sure to order the burger at Tokyo Disneyland. Don’t worry; it’s not really Mickey Mouse’s face, just a hamburger bun shaped to resemble the famous noggin.


The iconic conveyor-belt sushi restaurant is one place everyone visiting Japan should try out, unless you have a fish allergy. This particular sushi joint featured a sushi bullet train that delivers custom orders right to the table.


Judge me all you want. There is no way I am missing the chance to eat barbeque ribs when they are so scarce in Japan.

By the end of the trip we had eaten a good mix of food; from all-you-can-eat yakiniku to Wendy’s. (There are literally only two in Japan). Obviously, some of the choices were made to indulge Madelynn and I with delicacies from America that can’t be found in Okazaki. But if there is one thing I learned on this trip, it’s that Japan has food options for everyone. So eat and be happy.